Casio EX-Z50 Review

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Casio Exilim EX-Z50

Steve's Conclusion

The "little brother" to the Exilim EX-Z55, the EX- Z50 shares all of the features found on it sibling, like a 5-megapixel imager and high-quality Pentax smc 3x optical zoom lens, but has a smaller 2.0-inch color LCD. With its SnapShot mode and 23 pre-programmed "Best Shot" scenes modes, this credit card-sized point-n-shoot can be used by any member of the family. And for those who like a little more control, you can manually change settings for white balance, ISO, flash intensity, etc.

Ergonomics were good. Controls are well placed and functional, and changing camera settings couldn't be easier thanks to its user friendly menu system. Its all-metal body has a well-built feeling to it, and the camera is large enough to make one handed shooting a breeze. This camera utilizes a large 2.0-inch color LCD monitor which covers almost 2/3 of the back. When using the LCD in bright light, I found only a few angles where it reflected the sun and made it difficult to use; this is when you'll be glad that it features an optical viewfinder. Since the monitor is large, the menu text is also bigger and more legible.

Shooting performance was very robust. From power up to first image captured averaged 1.5 seconds. This is pretty amazing when you consider it has to extend the lens and boot up. The all important shutter lag is almost non-existent when pre-focused and only 1/10 of a second including autofocus. The shot-to-shot delay measured about 2 seconds without the use of the flash and 3.0 seconds with the flash. The EX-Z50 does not offer a continuous or burst mode; this will make it difficult to capture images of fast moving objects. Our tests were done using a Sandisk Ultra II 256MB SD card, SnapShot mode, Large/Fine size/quality, preview off, flash off, and all other settings at default (unless noted.) Times may vary depending on lighting conditions, camera settings, media, etc.

Another "cool" feature on these cameras is the Business card and White board Best Shot scene modes. These modes allow you to capture images at an angle, then correct the images in-camera to make the perspective as if you had shot the picture dead on to the subject. This may not be used much for making prints, but it is useful when you want to take a snap shot of someone's business card or the black board at school, then later correct the image so you can retrieve the information on it.

Overall the image quality when using 5-megapixel Fine mode was good. Outdoors it captures sharp images that are nicely saturated. We noticed typical amounts of noise in high/low contrast areas, and there was a little softness on the edges of some samples. Its Pentax 3x optical zoom lens has a 35mm equivalent range of 35-105mm, which gives you flexibility in composing your shots. The lens showed moderate barrel distortion at full wide angle but almost no pin cushioning at full telephoto. Its zoom mechanism is quick and smooth as it goes from wide angle to telephoto. Indoors it also performs well. Considering it does not feature a focus-assist lamp, the EX-Z50 does an excellent job of focusing in low ambient lighting. Our indoor samples were sharp, well exposed, and skin tones appear natural. You can see it for yourself by looking at our samples page. Also I was pleased with its Macro capabilities. When using the flash in Macro mode, it does a good job of "throttling down".

Power is supplied by a proprietary lithium battery that is charged in-camera whenever it's placed in the included docking cradle. Casio claims that with the NP-40 battery pack (which is a 3.7v 1230 mAh pack) the EX-Z50 has a 10% longer battery life than that of the recently reviewed EX-Z40, allowing you to capture up to 390 shots, and a continuous playback time of over 6 hours. We had no problems capturing our sample photos and concluding our other tests before the battery was close to being exhausted. As always, we recommend the purchase or at least one extra pack and keep it charged and ready at all times. This way your picture taking fun will never end due to a dead battery. The EX-Z50's 9.3MB of internal memory is only sufficient to store 4 large images, so you will need to purchase a larger SD card. At current pricing we would recommend buying a 256MB or 512MB size card.

Bottom line - the EX-Z50 is pretty much identical to the EX-Z55, with the exception of the smaller LCD and slightly shorter battery life. That said, we feel it will make a great choice for anyone who wants an ultra-compact that has good image quality, speedy performance, and a durable body that will survive their everyday lifestyle. With a street price of around $399, it offers a good overall value, and will be perfect for your holiday gift list. For our European readers, the EX-Z50 will also be available as the Red Star, which is the same camera with a red body. At this time it doesn't appear that Casio USA will be selling this particular model.

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